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August Update

We have just come through a busy period and apart from the weather which has been disappointing we have survived! at least we are not having the red hot weather conditions they are having in Southern Europe – so we have to be thankful for that.

All the birds have been flying well and Brian continues to astonish audiences with his speed and dexterity but I must all mention Pippa who is such a steady and reliable falcon – it is easy to overlook her lovely nature – I pay tribute to here with thanks.

I had an incident at an event where I fell over in the arena – which is embarrassing in itself – what made matters worst was that ‘Bo’ the Eagle Owl was on her way flying over the children sitting on the grass. She continued on  flying over my head as I lay prostrate on the grass and out of the arena and over the show ground landing on the archery area back net about 10ft up. Of course the audience loved it. I bounded up and ran after my owl – like when I used to chase my sparrowhawk around when I was a schoolboy. Anyhow I got her down – returned to the arena and carried on with my next flier – Arizona the harris hawk. The archers had stopped for the demo – just in case you are wondering.

It was several days ago and I am still feeling a little sore in the back but thankfully nothing worse.

I live you with a picture of ‘Bo’ looking out of her tepee at a show.

Windy Day – 21st July

Not been a great day weather wise but all the birds flown – light rain but quite windy. I am going to include a picture of ‘Brian’ flying at Blenheim Palace earlier this year. It shows how angular and slight he is – he lacks the size of the female – but he is so speedy! As I said in a historical blog I bought him as a second hand falcon – although he comes from a well known line of lanners – and wow has he found his feet! so to speak and flies just brilliantly. He has Peregrine pace but with a whippy flight – just great to watch. He flew well today in the wind – showing his true class when conditions are testing. Photo by Karl Drage of www.eventandweddingphotography.co.uk 

 

July update

Things have been quite busy. Normally it is July that is the hectic time but this year it has been June. We have just finished a group of events ending in a school display in Slough. Everybody has been flying well which is wonderful.

I continue to fly our peregrine  ‘ Sprite’ everyday and he has started to fly at Thornbury Castle in the bottom field for guests – which is great. I am hopeful that we can start flying him in other displays – we are generally working towards that goal – they are such iconic birds – nearly everybody has heard of the species and so it is great to bring one along to events.

As I have said previously he is a clever flier and swinging the lure for him is very challenging – as he tends to fly at me – it is a tactic that is effective! but I try to stay one step ahead of him. Of course this is just natural behaviour for any falcon to develop tactics to outsmart their prey.

With lure swinging in mind I leave you with a picture of ‘Phillip Glasier’ the father of modern falconry flying a falcon at the then Falconry Centre. It gives encouragement to us all!

Late June falconry update – 2017

Things have been progressing along – busy – particularly so for June normally it is July that holds this distinction. All the birds have been flying well – our canvas weatherings have come into their own over the recent hot spell. Although we always seek additional shade under a tree – there is nothing better on a hot day. We are back now to fresher windier weather – which is more animal and human friendly for that matter!

I have a short extract filmed on a mobile phone – of me flying  ‘Sprite’ our male peregrine or tiercel peregrine – the female been known as the falcon or falcon gentle in the language of falconry. Here it is – surprisingly good footage actually and shows how clever he is at chasing the lure – predicting every move that I make! I hope with more development his flying and chasing of the lure will improve – just a wild peregrine learning to hunt successfully.

I am going to need some assistance with this so for the moment I will leave you with a picture just after I have flown him down on the grassy Knowle.

 

June 2017 – falconry news.

We have had a quite a busy May particularly down at Thornbury Castle. The weather in general has been a welcome relief although looking out of the window – Autumn has returned!

Brian our Lanneret continues to improve and his flying reminiscent of ‘Waqar’ one of our best falcons ever. He, however, was not a Lanner falcon but a Lugger falcon. A great flier – wippy and fast and just incredible on the turn and like Brian now just brilliant in the wind. He is such an exciting falcon and joins our other falcons that we fly at events including ‘Leah’ who is a wonderful flier – rangy and high flying.

We flew ‘Sprite’ our peregrine down at the Castle for some guests. It was his first public performance and he was really appreciated and flew with great confidence. ‘Performance’ in a way is the wrong word as it implies non natural behaviour which  could not be further from the truth. They are trained in accordance to their natural behaviour and they exhibit natural behaviour including flying away!

We are continuing to review what we offer – every year including equipment. We have used a small Mipro 30w sound system with a head set mic – battery powered for a number of years. This is a system that has served us well and is just perfect for smaller corporate/ educational events. We have considered buying a bigger system for general usage at small country fairs, fete and so on. Again battery powered and it would avoid the almost continual problems of pa systems that we have. Falconers with the use of headsets and movement around the arena does stretch a system to its limit if the receiver is some distance away.

So it is a question of investment and further the durability of the system which is critical importance – so it is something under constant review and research.

Talking of equipment I am just finishing off a new hawking bag. As an old style apprentice we had to make all our own equipment – falconry is an art and craft after all. Here is a picture of me working my industrial ‘Singer’ sewing machine. A unique piece of equipment. I brought it from a ‘cobbler’ who had gone electric – the machine having previously been used by his predecessor. Here is the pic.

 

 

May 2017 – falconry displays update – a little warmer!

We have been battling with cold strong winds for what seems like several weeks now. Our visit to Blenheim was a tough call for us – it is always breezy  because it is elevated and open – but particularly so during our recent visit – and it rained! but the birds did well and even ‘Bo’ our Eagle Owl deemed to fly through the dampness. There are some wonderful photos of the birds flying at Blenheim and hopefully I can get permission to put them on a future blog.

The wind dropped last Sunday and it coincided with a visit to Thornbury Castle – the weather was great really warm. Pete the Kestrel flew brilliantly – I love flying him he is a lot of fun – and Kestrel’s are great talking points with guests like Peregrines.

We are getting ready for a local event on Saturday and the last couple of days it has begun to feel a little warmer – hopefully it holds out for the weekend. It is always unpredictable at this of year – mid April to mid May is my favorite  part of the year – everything growing and I have seen in our local Peregrine again – saw it carrying prey to eat on a pylon! a steely dining table. I leave you with a picture of Arizona our harris hawk at an event earlier in the year. I include him especially because he always makes a major contribution to our displays.

Celebrating 30 years of falconry displays.

2017 is our 30th year of providing falconry and birds of prey displays at events across the country – anywhere where a falconry display is appropriate you my find us. The theme has always been the same to celebrate the art and craft of falconry – perhaps now which should add science to that title. With the weighing machine to monitor condition, telemetry for tracking, vitamin supplements for raptors along with nutrition, breeding birds of prey – essential for the continued survival of falconry and of course modern veterinary avian care.

So with this theme representing the history of the sport, the birds themselves, conservation, fun and enjoyment of the countryside through falconry – we continue. I include a picture of me – Michael Davie with our celebratory t-shirt! plus ‘Brian’ the male lanner falcon who we are just about to feed along with our dog ‘Grace’.  She is a wonderful companion and when the 99 variables of her temperament all align she is just about the best dog possible in terms of her responsiveness and intelligence. I always say judge me on my falconry and not on my dog training!

I also include a 30th celebratory plague give to me by ‘P.2 Design’ – a friendly business over the years. I like it because it depicts a Lanner falcon – it has a nice ‘arts and crafts’ feel to it and of course for us it has meaning because we have had some great Lanners of the years. So thanks to P.2 Design again and since it is designed to be all weather I will put it outside on our falconry mews.

Just some general news – we have been quite busy recently – which is good. ‘Pete’ the Kestrel put up a stunning display at Thornbury Castle Hotel last week – vertical stoops – really lovely.

 

April 2017

Last weekend we did the falconry display at Gloucester Country Fair and Races. It is a point to point meet with this year the addition of a country fair – that is where we come in. It was a beautiful day – warm a little breezy but still ok. The flying display went well and though early in the day we had a good audience. We were on static display for the rest of the day where we had a good number of people looking at the birds. Anyway I include some photos of the day. We were out yesterday at Thornbury Castle and ‘Pete’ the Kestrel flew really well – vertical dives!

The Apprentice falconer – grown up

Monday 20th March. A wet morning here and apart from taking our dog out we are waiting for the rain to stop and fly the birds. If we go too far beyond their usual time we will have to call it quite for the day and feed round. So I thought rather just pressing my nose against the window I would write a short blog. We have an event at the weekend and so this week I will be prepping for this – getting the birds of prey ready for event flying. Also checking the static display and loading it into the van for the season ahead – an all day event necessitates the birds sitting out – protected by the static display with water available.

I include a picture of me – below – with ‘Bo’ the Eagle owl who is now 29 years old when we both a little younger and I still had my beard. It was taken at the Community Centre field where I live. The field is soon to be gone – to make way for a much needed new Doctors surgery  – so the photo shows the passing of time in more ways than one.

Taking of time I am now older than Phillip Glasier when he opened the Newent Falconry Centre back in the late 1960’s. I include a picture 0f him above along with some other notable trainee falconers he was instructing at the time. He is in the front holding a Coopers Hawk with his pointer dog gazing upwards. Paul Bevan sent the photo over some time ago. He was Head falconer at the Centre for some years in the 1970’s under Phillip and I in turn was an apprentice under Paul. He was and is the finest of falconers and taught me practically everything I know. When I see him I still feel like an apprentice!

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‘Arizona’ our male Harris Hawk

I promised in  the previous blog that I would include a picture of ‘Arizona’ in the next. So here it is – taken today after he had been out flying. He is a brilliant flier circling and when conditions are right soaring back around to return to the fist. He will follow on well too – hawk walking as it is called! He flies off the T perch and chases the dummy rabbit and the disc – so he just about perfect. Not quite as keen on interactive work as ‘Red’ our old Harris Hawk but nonetheless ok – which fits in well with our format. Anyway here he is.